We had a very relaxing night in the hostel in Punakaiki. We made a dinner of pumpkin and garlic soup-in-a-bag, plus we added in leftover canned peas and half a can of lentils.
A nice evening, but our overnight was a little less peaceful. There was really hard rain pouring above us, plus hard gusts of wind that made trees scratch against the sides of the building. We woke up to even more rain.
We were headed to Hokitika, the jade capital of New Zealand. Jade, or Greenstone, or Pounamu, can only be found in the South Island of New Zealand, and it is really prominent in their culture, especially Maori culture. After just a few weeks in New Zealand and seeing person after person with a beautiful green jade necklaces, I knew it would be the perfect keepsake from my time here. It has been a really important process for me to choose what type of pounamu necklace I want, which started during my first week here. There are a few traditional Maori designs, but the ones that appeal to me are the koru (a spiral representing growth, new beginnings, harmony and peace), the twist (a crossover shape representing friendship, joining of lives for eternity, and the union of two cultures), and the hei matau (a fishook shape representing determination, strength, and prosperity). There are also a lot of designs that take the form of a Maori demigod, but since I do not identify with any particular iwi (tribe), and I do not come from a Maori whanau (family) I do not feel like I could authentically wear a symbol of an ancestor. I have been contemplating for weeks which design I like the best and which one means the most to me. I love the idea of the twist since I am taking this journey around aotearoa (New Zealand) with one of my best friends and we will undoubtably be bound forever from this experience. Also, I have fallen in love with and become so committed to the Maori and Kiwi culture and I feel like it will be a part of me for the rest of my life. On the other hand, I like the idea of the fish hook because of the natural strength and determination that I have always had and always will value as one of my most important character traits. But on the OTHER hand (yes, I have three hands here) I adore the koru spiral since it depicts the unfurling fern, such a classic, iconic, both Maori and New Zealand symbol. Plus, most of the jewelry I wear tends to be circular and I love images of nature. And probably the most important aspect of my time here in New Zealand is that I will be forever changed by what I learn from my experiences here, and that it has started a new trajectory of growth in my life that will never end.
So yes, I have been debating what symbol to get for more than two months, and the time has finally come to choose. I wanted to get my jade form an authentic carver near the source, and I learned that Hukitika was the place to get it. After much deliberation and window-shopping around the town (to think–I almost bought my pendant from a corporate business that imports the jade from British Columbia!!!), I finally chose a piece from Traditional Jade, a small, family whanau-owned shop on the outskirts of town.
The design that I finally chose, the koru spiral because in the end, I knew in my gut that it was the most beautiful and most important shape to me. What I love most about it is how it glows bright green when the light shines through, with a few speckles of deep, dark green.
When it came time to purchase our pieces, the woman in the shop shared with us the tradition in her whanau to always receive jade as a gift and to say a blessing before handing it over. Naturally, I bough Hannah’s neckalce for her, and she bought mine for me.
Through tears, we choked out a blessing about how these pendants will help us to never forget what we learned here, always bond our friendship, and represent how we have become changed women from this experience.
She makes a trip to Hokitika every year just to visit this restaurant! It was a really cute French-style cafe, and we got French onion soup (lighters than most versions I’ve had before and very flavorful! With these intriguing seeds, too!),
Then, it was back on the road, headed to Glacier Country, one of the places that I’ve been looking forward to most. Look at how calm this bay is.
I’m excited to spend three nights in this beautiful place 🙂